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Make sure you and your clients speak the same language.

We may laugh at stories like this one posted on Clients from Hell, but ultimately, we are the ones they should laugh at if this is what the client actually believes. We have not done our jobs communicating clearly.


 If we don't educate our clients with the terminology we use while working on their projects, or learn to reword it in terms they are familiar with, we have no one to blame but ourselves when there is this hurricane of a degree of a misunderstanding. AND, on the other hand, if you are the client and something doesn't make sense, someone is geekspeaking at you, hailing acronyms on you that you're unsure of their meaning - ASK! We think you know some of this stuff, or assume you do because you smile and nod your head as if you understand,  or don't ask any questions.

I've been on both sides of this scenario. 


When I was in Jr. High ('78-'80), I was always a student council member, or a representative for

once club or another. We had an elective course for Leadership & Student Governance. One of our early exercises was the game of Telephone. You know the game; someone tells you something, you tell what you heard to the next person, and down the line to the final interpretation of the message. If you were like we were, we had an ethnically diverse group. This made for HUGE laughs at the end of the line. It was an example of how quickly a message can change, unintentionally, or intentionally. After admitting failure in that excercise, we moved on to part two.

In the second part of the exercise, we learned respectful ways to verify what was heard from the person by telling them what they told you and asking a couple of clarifying questions. RESPECTFUL - not condescending was the key. We did the telephone exercise again with this extra step. The end of the line produced the exact palindrome told by the first person in the line. Communication success.

EXPERIMENT: Do a Google search for "ADA acronym":

What does ADA stand for?

"Your abbreviation search returned 105 meanings"

Every industry has acronyms. If you are in marketing: PDF, SEO, AIDA, B2B, B2C, CRM, ROI, RT, Saas, BANT, CPC, CMS, CPA. Graphics and web? RGB, CMYK, FTP, RSS, URL, UV, UI, DNS,ISP.

This is fine for all of us if we are only speaking within our industries, but many of our clients or potential clients may be in completely unrelated industries. Not only will these not make sense, but there could additional meanings that change the entire understanding of what you are attempting to convey, e.g., HOA - Home Owners' Association, Hangouts on Air. CPA - Cost Per Action and Certified Public Accountant. Which will your client be more familiar with? Make sure you give them the inside scoop on the industry terms and acronyms you are using while working for them or with them. This will make them feel informed, respected, and clear up potential confusion.

 This blog is supported by the generous contributions of Clickpoint Software and VanillaSoft.

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